Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner were one of the most popular Looney Toons characters. The coyote kept chasing the roadrunner but could never get him. In real life, coyotes can and do catch and eat everything from chickens to domestic cats and puppies. That’s why you are almost always allowed to hunt them, though you need the right gear.
Before we name the 6 best scopes for the AR 15 for coyote hunting, let’s learn more about coyote hunting in general and what it entails.
An Introduction to Coyote Hunting
While the rules vary from state to state, a general rules is that you’re free to hunt coyotes. They are legally considered vermin in most states. This means that you can often hunt them without a license, and there is no season. There are no limits if they are attacking your children, your pets or your livestock.
Yet hunting them can be a challenge, since they tend to come out at night. They’re most active at night, though you can often hunt them at dawn and dusk. That makes it harder to hunt them due to low visibility.
In order to hunt them, you’ll want to minimize your visibility to them both by sight and smell. (For example, keep the wind in your face.) And lure them in by appealing to them. This could be done by offering food.
You can also mimic the sound of an injured jackrabbit, since that attracts coyotes who think of it as dinner. It could be done by luring them with mates; the classic trick is using the scent of a female dog in heat in late winter/early spring.
Or make them feel like their territory is at risk. This could be done by spraying the scent of other coyotes and dogs in the area or putting up a decoy coyote.
What are the best guns for hunting coyotes?
.22 Centerfire guns will work for short-range shooting of coyotes but can fall short in open and windy environments. The 223 Remington is a good general purpose cartridge. It is a common load for AR-15 style rifles, making it relatively cheap. And it has enough power to kill a coyote even when you’re hunting from a blind a hundred feet away.
AR-15s are a good choice for hunting coyotes, though you may need to make changes to use it for hunting rather than home defense. You can often get more shots off in a short period of time with an AR-15 than the average hunting rifle.
You’ll need a high degree of accuracy for lengthy shots, and you need maneuverability when you’re hiding from these wily predators. This is especially true of the coy-dog hybrids that have moved into the suburbs and ex-urbs. They’re able to take down deer and go after larger pets, but they’re as mobile and smart as coyotes. That’s why it is generally open season on coyotes.
How to get your gun ready for coyote hunting
Regardless of the gun you choose, you will probably need to make a few modifications to the gun. One necessary upgrade is switching to ammo that will kill the coyote on a single shot. The second upgrade is installing a scope that allows you to see your prey, since you’re generally hunting them in low light conditions at a distance.
That’s a challenging combination. This is why you need the best scope for ar 15 coyote hunting you can find. And we’re going to provide recommendations.
Contenders for the Title of Best Scope for AR 15 Coyote Hunting
1- Nikon Prostaff 4-12X40
This is a basic Nikon brand rifle scope that is compatible with AR-15s. It has 4x to 12x magnification. It has a 40 mm objective lens. It is notable for having excellent light collecting ability. Its optical system collects and transmits nearly 98 percent of light to your eye.
While it won’t replace infrared goggles or flashlights in true darkness, it gives you as much visibility as possible in low light conditions without having to haul around extra hardware. The scope is 14 inches long. It has a basic black matte finish.
It has 3.7 inches of eye relief. The turret is zero-reset, and it has a finely-tuned adjustment system. It has a quick focus eyepiece, though there are some complaints that the reticle is yellow rather than clear. It is fog-proof and water-proof thanks to the nitrogen filled housing.
Some users say the scope is not a good fit for high-powered rifles. For example, its performance is sometimes affected by the recoil of a .308 rifle. This means it may work fine for lower caliber rifles like 22s and the 223 rifle.
2- Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40
Vortex is a popular scope brand, though they can be expensive. The company doesn’t make up for that with the free branded hat they throw in with some products. But it does stand out as a very lightweight scope. It weighs less than a pound. But that’s not why people buy rifle scopes.
The 4-12 magnification on this scope allows you to improve visibility in low light conditions to some degree, while the 40 mm lens has better light gathering capability than a standard 30 mm lens. The lenses are multi-coated, so it will give you a bright image in low-light conditions.
That makes it arguably the best scope for ar 15 coyote hunting at dusk and dawn. It gets points for being fog-proof, too. And the eye piece quickly adjusts. It has a one quarter MOA adjustment, maximum windage adjustment of 60 MOA and a maximum elevation adjustment of 60 MOA. The dead-hold reticle makes it ideal for those shooting at varying ranges.
The tube is one piece. It is shockproof, water-proof and durable. That makes it suitable for hunting in general. At 1.4 pounds, it isn’t too heavy for those who need to carry it around or sit and wait a while for their target.
A common issue with this scope is that it doesn’t come with the brackets you need to mount it. You’ll have to pay extra for that. This may not be an issue if you have other Vortex hardware.
3- UUQ C4-12X50 Rifle Scope
This rifle scope made our list of contenders for the best scope for ar 15 coyote hunting for several reasons. First, it has a red laser sight if you buy the basic version, and you can get a version with a green laser for a little more.
Both of these improve targeting in low light conditions. That eliminates the need to buy a separate laser, though you can separate the laser from the scope. The laser can reach as far as 100 meter or 300 feet. The rifle scope has holographic red dot sight, too.
This rifle scope is great for low light conditions. One factor is the 50 mm lens. Another is the fact that you can set the range finding reticles at five different brightness levels, so that it matches your requirements no matter the light levels.
It has windage and elevation adjustments with one quarter MOA. You don’t have to see it to know you’ve made the adjustment. It has an audible noise when you make the change so you know how far you’ve adjusted it.
The aluminum rifle scope is water-proof, shock-proof and fog-proof. It is filled with dry nitrogen. This unit can be mounted on both picatinny and weaver rails.
Every rifle scope has its downsides. One periodic complaint is that it will not zero. It may sight left to right but not up and down or vice versa. This is often the result of poor quality control. That’s the obvious answer when the red dot mirror literally falls out after being used on a high recoil rifle.
The laser itself eats batteries. That’s not uncommon for lasers, though. The unit has surprisingly little documentation.
4- The Bushnell Engage Riflescope, One Inch Tube
This mid-market rifle scope is made by Bushnell. It has 3x to 9x magnification. It has a 40 mm lens. It is longer than others on our list at 18 inches long. It is roughly four inches across. It has 3.5 inches of eye relief. On the other hand, it only weighs 12 ounces. That makes it lighter than average.
If your goal is visibility, you’ll appreciate the 0.18 MOA thick cross-hairs. There are hash marks on the cross-hairs for every 1 MOA of elevation. It also has hash marks to make corrections for windage.
It has excellent anti-reflection coatings on the lenses. This improves brightness and gives you a view in true color. The EXO barrier on the lenses repels oil, water, fog and dirt. That prevents your view from being obscured by dust or grease. The rugged lenses resist scratching, too.
The turrets on it lock, and you don’t need tools to do so. This gives you a tool-less zero reset. And the turrets won’t move, whether you bump it while shifting position or experience high recoil.
There are occasional quality control issues. For example, you may receive one with non-working knobs or defective glass. And it is hard to get it fixed or get a replacement from the Korean manufacturer.
5- Leupold Model VX-5HD 3-15x 44mm Side Focus Rifle Scope
This rifle scope has a 40 mm objective lens diameter. The minimum magnification is 3-fold, while its peak magnification is 15x. The manufacturer says it has a Fine Duplex CDS reticle. The zero lock custom dial system or CDS promises to eliminate the need for holdovers or having to do additional ballistic calculations.
The term side focus refers to the fact that the side focus dial is on the left side of the turret. This feature is used by long-distance shooters to bring a distant target into the same focal plane as the reticle. Leupold says this eliminates parallax and gives the best possible focus.
The Leupold VX-5HD is the most expensive rifle scope on our list. But what do you get for the money? One answer is the Twilight Max HD light management system. The manufacturer says it will add up to thirty minutes of “shooting light”, and that is generally good enough to keep hunting during dawn or dusk without having to turn on a flashlight.
The glare-reduction means you won’t be blinded by the sun on the horizon being in your eyes, either. And the lenses also have edge to edge high definition clarity. The question is whether these features are worth the money.
Do you need a fast-focus eye piece that can let you switch from a wide-field view to a close one almost immediately? Do you need to be able to turn up two turns of elevation without losing zero? Or, rather, is it worth the price tag? We’ll recommend this scope if you’re going to use it to hunt tricky game in addition to coyotes.
6- Sightmark Core TX Rifle Scope
This is the cheapest rifle scope on our list. We’ll call it the budget option. It is a 13 inch long, 3 inch wide rifle scope with a 30 mm tube. That makes it smaller than the others on our list.
We included this rifle scope because the reticle is calibrated for .223 and .308 ammo, making it perfect for rifles that shoot that caliber of ammunition. You get a basic red/green illuminated reticle designed for a 100 yard zero.
Yet you have the same key features as high end rifle scopes. It is shock-proof, water-proof and fog-proof. It has lockable, exposed turrets. The cross-hairs provide 0.30 MOA aiming. The second focal plane is proprietary to Sightmark, and it can take some getting used to. Don’t expect to use this scope right out of the box without practice.
Unlike some other rifle scopes, it comes with scope rings and batteries. Battery consumption is average for the product class.
There are some complaints that it will not hold zero. And the unit has sometimes shipped without scope rings. Verify that the seller includes them.
The best scopes for AR 15 coyote hunting maximize your visibility in the low-light conditions, those times of day when both you and coyotes are likely to be active. They need to provide rapid and accurate sighting of these literally wily targets while letting you stay a safe distance back. The right rifle scope will fit your gun, your preferring hunting style and your budget.